In America I did not know even the man next door
but in the village I knew everybody.
I took off my Birkenstocks to play soccer barefoot
the kids in the village.
We were their gods
buoyed up by our own good charm,
of course it was not money but the color of our dreams.
Yes, I feel like they helped us more than we helped them,
though we gave a lot too.
No, there was nothing transactional, a few bills paid,
we brought them games and learning, some textbooks.
Oh, and we bought them some livestock.
We’d teach ’em how to dance, how to hit the Woah like any
normal American kid. They’d teach us their traditions, their dances,
they’d splash us with water blessed by the Shaman,
and we’d splash them back giggling.
Yes, in the village we were treated like royalty,
except for one old, pruny, wrinkled,
smelly, pagan kind of guy who’d curse us out.
No, yeah, he was definitely senile,
out of it,
backwards-minded – the kind of guy
where, upon seeing him on any street corner in America,
your own mother would turn to you
and, clutching her purse tightly to her side, go
“There but for the grace of god go I.”
Victor Xia is a high school junior from Seattle, Washington. He has attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop and his work is forthcoming or has been published by Crashtest, The Live Poets Society, and The Poetry Juicebox. He believes in the power of mutual understanding, the value of a good film, and in reading more.